What are Heart Palpitations?
Heart palpitations refer to the condition when the heartbeat becomes faster than usual in an irregular rhythm. Patients with heart palpitations may feel a pounding heart.
In general, heart palpitations are harmless. There are several conditions that may cause your heart to work harder, for example when your body needs more oxygen when exercising. Your heart needs to pump blood faster to circulate oxygen throughout the body.
However, a faster-beating heart may indicate a more serious problem. Heart palpitations can also be an indication of health problems with your heart.
Causes of Heart Palpitations
There are numerous causes of heart palpitations. In fact, not all causes of heart palpitations are directly related to the heart organ itself.
Some of the conditions that cause heart palpitations may include:
Heart health conditions
Impaired heart health can result in heart palpitations. Possible heart conditions may include:
- Arrhythmias or problems with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Heart valve problems
- Congenital heart defects
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or enlargement and thickening of the heart muscle walls
Psychological or emotional conditions can also cause irregular heartbeat. Feelings of emotions such as anxiety, nervousness, stress, panic, fear, and stress may lead to heart palpitations.
Other health conditions
There are also other health conditions that can cause heart palpitations, such as:
- Low blood sugar levels
- Low potassium levels
- Loss of blood in large quantities
- Low levels of oxygen or carbon dioxide in the blood
- Electrolyte imbalance
Hormonal changes that occur during menstrual period, pregnancy, and before and after menopause can prevent heart palpitations.
Types of Medications
Certain types of medications can make your heart beat faster, such as:
- Several types of cough and cold medicines
- Asthma inhalers
- Antifungal therapy
- Antiarrhythmic drugs
- Antihistamine drugs
- Thyroid hormone drugs
- Several types of herbal and nutritional supplements
- Several types of diet pills
The following lifestyle habits can cause heart palpitations:
- Consuming alcohol excessively
- Consuming caffeine in tea, coffee, and energy drinks excessively
- Eating too much spicy food
- Eating foods rich in carbohydrates, sugar or fat
- Eating foods high in monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, or sodium
- Doing strenuous exercise
- Taking illegal drugs
When to See a Doctor for Heart Palpitations
Your doctor will require some information related to your physical activity, current medications, health conditions, and the level of your stress. In addition, your doctor will also examine your heart condition using a stethoscope.
If necessary, your doctor may also perform several other tests. Possible tests may include:
- Electrocardiography test (ECG). Electrocardiography is done to record your heart’s electrical activity by attaching electrodes to your chest. The electrodes are wired and connected to an ECG machine that will display a graph of your heart rhythm.
- Holter monitor test. Holter monitor is a test to check the heart’s function. The device connected to the electrode cable on your chest will then be attached to your pocket or belt.
- Echocardiography test (ultrasound of the heart). Echocardiography is a test to observe the condition of your heart both from its structure and function by emitting electronic sound waves. The sound waves will be converted into images that can describe the condition of your heart.
- Other tests, such as blood tests, urine tests, or X-rays
Symptoms of Heart Palpitations
Faster, stronger, and irregular heartbeat can be signs or symptoms of heart palpitations. You may also feel heart palpitations in your throat and neck.
If you also experience symptoms such as weakness, excessive sweating, headache, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, pain in your chest, arm, neck, jaw and upper back, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Treatment for Heart Palpitations
There are numerous treatment options available for heart palpitations, depending on the cause. In some cases, heart palpitations are harmless and do not require special treatment.
However, in alarming conditions, there are several ways your doctor will treat heart palpitations, such as:
- Medications. There are several types of medications that can slow down your heart rate. Your doctor may also prescribe blood-thinning drugs as faster heartbeats can increase the risk of blood clots. If left untreated, blood clots can trigger a stroke or heart attack.
- Pacemaker (defibrillator). This device serves to monitor irregular heartbeats and help restore the heartbeat to normal. A pacemaker will be placed under your skin.
- Implantable cardioverter defibrillator. An ICD is useful for monitoring heart rate and keeping it within reasonable limits. The ICD will be implanted in your chest.
- Catheter ablation. An ablation device will be inserted into your heart to monitor the veins in your thighs, neck, and chest and examine the electrical impulses of your heart. The catheter will be used to insert the ablation device.
Treatment Cost for Heart Palpitations
Treatment cost for heart palpitations may vary, depending on the cause and examinations required.
For more details regarding the estimated treatment cost for heart palpitations, hospital recommendations, and making appointments with doctors at home and abroad, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Heart Palpitations
You can prevent heart palpitations by maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle, such as:
- Adopt a heart-healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet
- Exercise regularly for at least 30 minutes every day
- Maintain normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Lose weight if necessary and maintain an ideal weight
- Manage stress levels by doing meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques
Home Remedies for Heart Palpitations
There are several strategies you can practise at home to treat heart palpitations, including:
- Educate yourself with the symptoms, trigger factors, and risks of heart palpitations. This can help you identify first-aid solutions to heart palpitations.
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Get enough rest
- Maintain a healthy diet.
- Maintain normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Manage stress levels through yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques